'Virtues in Practice' Seminar in the Netherlands
14th May 2014
Dr Wouter Sanderse organised a ‘Virtues in practice’ seminar in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, which took place last month. It was geared towards professionals who already draw on virtue ethics in their work, or who would like to do so in the future. The seminar, the first of its kind in the Netherlands, offered professionals an opportunity to exchange experiences and expertise, and researchers a way to determine the state of play in several professional domains.
The event attracted 75 people, from a variety of professions, including the police, the army, primary and secondary education, teacher education, accountancy, coaching and training, government and academia. Presentations were given by five professionals, who explained why and how they had implemented a virtue approach in their work with subsequent discussions around the pros, cons and challenges of virtue approaches.
The pros of a virtue approach mentioned most often were its optimistic picture of human nature, combined with a strong pedagogical approach, the moral education of both self and other, and its usefulness as a general but substantial moral framework in a multicultural context. The participants also formulated several challenges that need to be addressed if a virtue approach is to be more successful.
The participants were very enthusiastic about this initiative, and in particular, the evaluation indicated that professionals do not only want to learn from each other, but are also looking for academic guidance. The discussion and sharing of experiences and ideas continued after the seminar via social media with a second seminar scheduled for January 2015. Dr Wouter Sanderse is planning to write a book (in Dutch) about ‘Professional Virtues’ aimed at those in higher education working with virtues in the training of new professionals.
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